Saturday, May 8, 2010

Living in Bible Times

Living in Bible Times employs colorful, detailed, architectural-style drawings to teach children about life during various biblical eras. Tim Dowley, who has a PhD in church history from the University of Manchester, begins by describing the Egyptian pyramids, (before the time of Moses), and goes on to describe the Israelite Tabernacle described in Exodus. We also learn what New Testament houses and ships would have looked like, as well as Herod's Temple, and the Theatre and Stadium in Ephesus.

The book uses short paragraphs next to pictures, paintings and drawings, in a style reminiscent of National Geographic magazines. These are interesting, but the most engaging aspect of the book is its remarkable, full-page, ink sketches on the right hand of every page. These pages are really sleeves containing more detailed, color pictures with labels. The color pictures appear as you pull the page out of the sleeve. It looks like magic, and my children and I had a hard time figuring out how the sleeves work.

The information in the text is interesting, appropriately captioned, and includes definitions (for example, when they mention cherubim, they use parentheses to explain they are "angel-like creatures"), and biblical references. There are several modern-day photographs included to give context to the ancient area described.

What I Like: The ink sketches that give way to color drawings are definitely my favorite part of this book. They include lots of fun detail, and shed new light on familiar Bible stories. I was particularly interested in the "Houses of Bible Times." I can picture many stories about Jesus better after reading about the roof structure and where families would have had their meals. My children also loved the "magical" drawings, but we had to take turns pulling the pages out of the sleeves!

I also liked the way Dowley included Scripture references within the text. Readers would need to look up the verses on their own, but Dowley cites many stories specifically.

The book is bright and each page includes four or five small pictures or photographs. These pictures are captioned, and kept my children interested.

What I Dislike: The only complaint I have is the book is a bit long and wordy. It takes a long time to read through all the information, even though there are only six pages of text. (The book is 9"x 11.")

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 9-12

Publisher Info: Candle Books, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-85985-664-2; Hardcover, $14.99

Buy it Now at for $11.99

OR Buy it at for $10.19.

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